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I have spent much time of late in the company
of Centaur discs wanting to redress our comparative neglect of
this label although truth to tell that neglect has never been
Szymanowski merits a more refined soundscape
than this recording and acoustic permitted. Although it sounds
perfectly in the chamber textures it begins to sound opaque at
anything approaching forte. This is a pity because the pacing
of the Symphonie Concertante (the so-called fourth symphony)
strikes me as pretty damn near perfect. There were many moments
when I thought that I was hearing this piece properly for the
first time. Truth to tell it has not been amongst my favourite
Szymanowski pieces - and I am
a Szymanowski enthusiast. The strings of the Janáček Phil
under Dennis Burkh have a really fine legato at 5.43. Mescal Wilson
plays a Bösendorfer Imperial. I liked her tetchy way with the
first movement and her cushioned touch for the andante
which takes Szymanowski into Schrecker/Zemlinsky territory. He
looks back to the sultry dreams of the Third Symphony at 3.08.
The nervy punch of the allegro is expertly delivered, uncompromised
by softenings. The orchestra prove themselves adepts of the idiom:
listen to the gritty ostinati near the start of the finale and
the explosive Bartókian sign-off.
The Violin Concerto with its flittering Firebirdisms
is done wondrously well with a close recording excellently catching
Szymanowski’s warm Sapphic nights. One can see where the Song
of Roxanne and other episodes in King Roger derive.
I enjoyed this version of the concerto enormously and Zimansky
is good. I urge you to hear this and not just for Zimansky either.
This is, after all, a concerto for orchestra as well. While there
are more illustrious (Juillet, Mordkovich, Kulka, Danczowska)
and certainly more generous discs this version of the Concerto
should not be lost in the torrent of new releases. After this
experience I would have loved to have heard Zimansky in Prokofiev's
First Violin Concerto - a work that few have mastered since Szigeti.
I am sure that Zimansky would, on this showing, be a compelling